The businessmen, both 65, were reportedly arrested by the United States Capitol Police on the East Front Rotunda Steps of the building for unlawful demonstration activities, according to a press release from the police. (The report does not name Cohen or Greenfield or any of the people arrested.) All of the approximately 300 individuals were charged for crowding, obstructing or incommoding, and were processed and released on the scene.
"Democracy Awakening," a movement against the influence of what they call "big money" in the government, has lead protests in the Capitol for several days in hope for "a fair hearing and an up or down vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee," according to the group's website. The nonviolent protests coincide with the "Democracy Spring" campaign, similar protests also organized to highlight "our corrupt campaign finance system." Actress Rosario Dawson was arrested in a similar protest on Friday.
Of Greenfield and Cohen's arrests, Ben & Jerry's said, "Jerry and Ben and hundreds of others felt that they had to do something more, once the marches and the speeches came to an end. As Ben said, there's a powerful legacy of direct action in this country. From mass protests like the March on Washington and 2014's People's Climate March in NYC, to incredibly powerful if quieter and more personal actions like the 1960 Woolworth sit-ins started by four African-American students in Greensboro, North Carolina, or the protest against Shell Oil.s plan to drill in the arctic by kayakers in Seattle.
"Sometimes, when something really matters, you have to put your body on the line. You have to take a stand," the company said.
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Before their arrests, Cohen told reporters, "The history of our country is that nothing happens until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested," according to the ice cream brand.
Both men haven't "been shy about taking a stand on issues that we care about, even when they're controversial," the company's website said, and are known for releasing special flavors in conjunction with national hot-topics – like "I Dough, I Dough," a celebration of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage last year.